We take a look at the four teams in Pool A of the World Rugby U20 Championship 2015, which features two-time defending champions England, France, Wales and the U20 Trophy 2014 winners Japan.

VIEW POOL B PREVIEW >>
VIEW POOL C PREVIEW >>

ENGLAND

Seeding for 2015: 1
Best finish: Champions (2013, 2014)
Worst finish: Seventh (2012)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 27 / Lost 8
U20 Championship points / tries scored: 1,161 / 142

U20 graduates: 24
Most capped U20 graduate: Ben Youngs (49 tests – 47 for England, two for British and Irish Lions)

0:00
/
0:00

Did you know...? England hold the record for the most tries scored in a single U20 Championship match, having crossed the whitewash 17 times against the USA in the 2013 edition in France.

Coach: Jon Callard
Captain: Charlie Ewels

One to watch: Jack Walker
A hooker with Yorkshire Carnegie in the English Championship, Walker was a member of England’s winning side last year in New Zealand, easily bettering the seventh place finish his older brother Chris led the nation to in 2012. He actually started playing at fly-half but has not looked back since switching to hooker at under-13 level, benefitting from having former England prop David Flatman as a mentor.  

FRANCE

Seeding for 2015: 6
Best finish: Fourth (2011)
Worst finish: Sixth (2008, 2012, 2014)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 23 / Lost 12
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 943 / 110

U20 graduates: 24
Most capped U20 graduates: Yoann Maestri (36 tests)

Did you know...? Pierre Bernard holds the record for most points scored in a single U20 match with 33 against Wales in the fifth place play-off in 2009.

Coach: Gérald Bastide
Captain: Lucas Bachelier

http://www.worldrugby.org/photos/73608

One to watch: Sékou Macalou
The tall and rangy blindside flanker showed what he can do with space in front of him during Les Bleuets’ Six Nations match with Ireland, receiving the ball in his own half, handing off three would-be tacklers before racing away for an impressive try. Blessed with pace and great athletic ability, Macalou plays his club rugby for RC Massy, who finished bottom of the Pro D2 this season, and has played for France on the Sevens World Series this year.

WALES

Seeding for 2015: 7
Best finish: Runners-up (2013)
Worst finish: Seventh (2010, 2011, 2014)
U20 Championship match record: Played 35 / Won 23 / Lost 12
U20 Championship points/tries scored: 921 / 105

U20 graduates: 28
Most capped U20 graduate: Leigh Halfpenny (63 tests – Wales 60 and Lions 3)

Did you know...? Leigh Halfpenny is something of a trailblazer for U20 graduates, the first to play for the British and Irish Lions (2009), the top test point scorer (531), the joint-most capped with Australia’s James Slipper (63 tests) and scorer of the most test points by a Lions players in a single series (49)

Coach: Allan Lewis
Captain: Rory Thornton

One to watch: Dafydd Howells
He may only be 20 but the full-back actually made his test debut for Wales two years ago, playing twice against Japan in June 2013. Howells has also played for Wales Sevens on the World Series and with an U20 Championship already under his belt, the Ospreys’ full-back’s experience will be important in a tough pool for the young Dragons.

JAPAN

Seeding for 2015: 12 (World Rugby U20 Trophy 2014 winners)
Best finish: 15th (2008, 2009 – when 16 teams in tournament)
U20 Championship match record: Played 10 / Won 2 / Lost 8
U20 points/tries scored: 192 / 29  

http://www.worldrugby.org/photos/6602

U20 graduates: 15 (10 from Championship, five from Trophy)
Most capped U20 graduate: Michael Leitch (38 tests)

Did you know...? World Rugby U20 Trophy 2014 winner Chihito Matsui made his test debut for Japan in the Asia Rugby Championship against Korea on 18 April and marked it with a try in a 56-30 win.

Coach: Ryuji Nakatake
Captain: Kosuke Horikoshi

One to watch: Akira Takenaka
A promising young scrum-half, he was brought up in England and was Hampton School’s rugby captain before spending last season back in Japan playing for Mitsubishi. He got limited playing time but will have benefitted from being in a squad around the likes of former Welsh international Shane Williams and RWC 2011 winner Stephen Donald. He played for Japan in the Oceania Rugby Junior Championship earlier this month when they faced New Zealand, Australia and Samoa.